JOHOR BAHRU: An Indonesian married couple pleaded guilty at the High Court here on Wednesday (Nov 29) to charges of murdering their elderly employer in Kulai about three years ago.
Bartolomeus Fransceda, a gardener, and Ekalia, a housemaid, both 20 at the time, confessed to jointly killing Lau Yen Na, 73, in a house on Jalan Anak Bukit, Palm Resort Senai, Kulai, at 2pm on March 17, 2020.
The charges were framed under Section 302 of the Penal Code, punishable by a death sentence, or between 30 and 40 years' imprisonment, and at least 12 strokes of the cane, upon conviction.
Based on investigations and closed circuit TV footage of the scene, the duo killed Lau with a small, sharp two-pronged hoe measuring 50 centimetres, hitting her on the head while she was resting, and taking off with her Toyota Alphard vehicle and mobile phone.
The couple then headed to Kuala Lumpur to meet their friends to seek work but were later nabbed at a restaurant in Petaling Jaya, Selangor on March 21, 2020.
The pathology report showed the cause of death as multiple slash wounds to the head. The victim's DNA was found on the weapon and Ekalia’s DNA was also detected on a pillowcase.
In mitigation, Ooi Pen Lyn, who represented both the accused, appealed for a 30-year sentence on the basis that her clients were actually victims of human trafficking and cheated by an unregistered agent.
"The accused said in addition to being mentally and physically abused by the senior citizen, they were treated like slaves without food and ordered to live in a hut outside the house," she added.
However, deputy public prosecutor Muhammad Syafiq Mohd Ghazali objected, saying being abused and treated like slaves should not be an excuse to take the law into their own hands and kill an elderly person in such a cruel manner.
"Although Section 302 of the Penal Code has been amended to impose a prison sentence, it is still within the court's discretion to impose the death by hanging penalty based on the situation," he said.
Judge Datuk Abu Bakar Katar set Dec 11 for sentencing and did not allow any bail. - Bernama